Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. (John 21:4)

CHUCK COLSON, known for his effective ministry to prisoners, was once visiting a unique prison in Brazil. The jail was run by the inmates who had all found new life in Christ. Because of their exemplary behavior (and zero escapes), the government allowed them to function on their own. During his visit, one of the prisoners took Colson to a former isolation room, once used for torture. “Are you sure you want to go in?” asked the inmate. After assuring him that it would be alright, Colson discovered a beautifully carved rendering of Christ on the wall, which the famous visitor certainly did not expect. “He’s doing time for the rest of us,” whispered the inmate.

Mr. Colson was surprised. He did not expect to see Jesus in that room. The third time Jesus appeared to the disciples after the resurrection, they did not realize that it was Him. Only after the miracle of their nets bulging with fish did they realize it was the Lord.

Many times God is at work in our lives, but we are not aware that it is Him—at least not at first. Quite often, believers go through incredible hardships, wondering why the Lord does not intervene and prevent the significant losses they are experiencing. However, once the trial is over and the losses are grieved, those same believers look back and see how the hand of God was guiding them. He never left—they just didn’t realize it was Him.

Thank God for His presence in your life during times of trial.

Doug Schmidt is a freelance writer and editor and is on staff with his church as a small-groups coach.